Volleyball is more than a century old. It originated in the United States in 1895, earning its place as one of the most popular spectator sports in the world, ranking second only to soccer. It's easy to see why volleyball became so beloved. It began as a hybrid of some the most popular interactive ball sports, combining elements of baseball, basketball, handball and tennis. Today volleyball is one of the most international among sporting events, it's played in 211 countries around the world, and boasts about 800 million players worldwide.
Invented by William G. Morgan, a teacher at the Young Men's Christian Association in Holyoke, Mass, volleyball was considered less physically demanding than its predecessor ball sports, and geared more toward the common-class citizen.
Once called "mintonette", volleyball borrows such things as the net from the game of tennis, but raised it above the ground and over the head. When it became apparent that the simple rules of the game involved merely passing the ball back and forth over the net, or volleying, "volleyball" became the logical name for it. On July 7, 1896, the first volleyball game was played at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
The next hundred years would send volleyball from its roots to one of the most popular spectator sports in the world.
By the turn of the century, a custom-made volleyball was created, and the game was on its way to international acclaim. The next couple decades spread the sport to Cuba, truly marking the beginning of the volleyball era. The game was presented as one of the most popular at the Playground of America Convention. After that it made its way to Central America and within a few years, to the Far East - home to the first official volleyball competition.
By 1916 volleyball had found its way to Brazil and South America. In that year, the game took on a truly competitive nature with the evolution of the offensive attack. The set and spike was used in the Philippines for the first time, changing the face of the volleyball to a high impact game that included a high projectory set, followed by a spike. The kill, created in the Filipinnes, was so-named 'bomba' in the US after the notorious attacker, 'the Bomberino'.
Scoring methods and rules also evolved. In 1917, the game changed its number of points needed to win, and new rules included back row attacking and three hits per side. In 1928 the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA) was formed to govern volleyball rules, and has organized volleyball national men's and senior volleyball championships almost every year.
In 1930 volleyball took to the sand with the first two-man beach volleyball match. Thereafter it was believed the international sport needed governing, and in 1947 in Paris, France, the Federation Internationale De Volley-Ball (FIVB) was founded. That organization led to the founding of an official volleyball Congress in which 14 national federations representing five continents held meetings. Congress's main goal was to launch an international volleyball competition, and this goal was met. The first indoor Volleyball World Championship tournament, the oldest international event organized by the FIVB, commenced. In that same year, the first official two-man beach tournament was held at Will Rogers State Beach, California.
In 1949 women began to complete on a national level at the first women's USVBA divisions, and then internationally by 1952 when women's volleyball was included in the FIVB. By the turn of the century the sport had boasted its first World Championships held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
In 1957 Volleyball continued to make international strides when the Olympic games included it for the first time at the 1964 Tokyo games. This was due to the efforts of the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation organizing a tournament during its international preliminary Olympic Committee meetings.
In 1960, the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) was formed, marking a new era of the sport when new offensive and defensive techniques were developed.
In 1965 the men's World Cup volleyball competition, a qualifier for the Olympic games, was played for the first time, and in 1973 the competition would include a women's category.
In 1974 Japan would telecast for the first time the World Championship volleyball tournament held in Mexico. By this time professional volleyball was on the horizon, and in 1983 Leonard Armato founded the Association of Volleyball Professionals, launching the first beach volleyball tour in the US. By 1987 Beach Volleyball was added to the World Championship Series.
The FIVB created the World League in 1990, which is a men's international volleyball competition, and the longest-standing volleyball organization to date.
And finally the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia hosted the first, two-person beach volleyball competition. From there, beach volleyball has earned its rank as one of the most popular Olympic spectator events today.